Almost a year after becoming law in Mississippi, the religious objection bill aimed at the gay community will be the focus of oral arguments in a federal appeals court Monday. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Lubbock, Texas, following Gov. District Judge Carlton Reeves said HB 1523 does not, despite its name, honor the nation's tradition of religious freedom. Bryant, who had to use private attorneys to appeal the decision after Attorney General Jim Hood would not appeal it, stands by HB 1523."This is a good law that was democratically enacted and is perfectly constitutional.The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi — which describes the law, House Bill 1523, as one of many enacted recently across the country that discriminates against LGBT people — looks at HB 1523 as one of the worst and the furthest along within the legal process so far. Phil Bryant's appeal of a federal judge's decision declaring HB 1523 unconstitutional. The district court's decision is ripe for reversal.Theriot argues that if the 5th Circuit upholds HB 1523, it will only be enforcing existing law, but if it is struck down, "obviously that would go against years, decades of precedent."Erik Fleming, ACLU of Mississippi director of policy, said the benefits of the 5th Circuit upholding Judge Reeves' decision goes beyond a legally binding decision."I would believe that any judicial action that strikes down a discriminatory law would provide a road map for other lawyers …to be able to challenge that kind of legislation," Fleming said. Supreme Court to take up this kind of legal challenge at this time. HB 1523 is one bill in a wave of similar legislation proposed or adopted across the country in the last few years.These legal questions are still fresh for the courts, and even a slight tweak in the law's wording can alter the outcome of any particular case, said constitutional law expert and Mississippi College of Law professor Matt Steffey.Mississippi's bill includes protections for three religious beliefs: Marriage should be recognized as a union between one man and one woman; sexual relations are reserved for those marriages; and a person's gender refers to his or her biological sex assigned at birth."Ours was among the most obviously unconstitutional," Steffey said."Most importantly, it would discourage lawmakers on either side of the aisle to even make those efforts to put out anything discriminatory.”In Mississippi, anti-LGBT legislation received no traction in 2017 following Reeves' ruling. Opponents argue these measures would legalize discrimination against the LGBT community.1.
Utah - SB 297Exempts state officials from having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.But some believe the precedent could have wide ranging impact, if not legally.If the 5th Circuit were to uphold HB 1523, Steffey said, legislators could be emboldened.But, Hill said, "The impact it could have is far-reaching, not just with the LGBTQ population, but single mothers.There's any number of ways this bill could be construed and used as a license to discriminate against others."The 5th Circuit's ruling on HB 1523 only legally binds Texas and Louisiana — both of which are also in the 5th Circuit — and would only pertain to an identical law proposed in those states.